City officials in Springfield, Illinois, are calling for the resurrection of their street crimes unit, due to the disturbing growth of gang and drug-related shootings that have occurred as of late.
Originally formed in 2004, the street crimes unit operated until budget cuts last year resulted in the unit’s discontinuation. Now it will make a much-needed comeback in response to the rise of crime gripping the city, mainly due to gang, gun and drug activity. In the past month alone, there have been four deaths in the Springfield area.
Police Commissioner Fitchet, Mayor Sarno, State Representative Swan and city council members all agreed that the streets crime unit will go anywhere needed in the city as to “put pressure on gangs and open drug activity.”
Fitchet said that the unit will also cooperate and work alongside state and federal task forces to suppress the gang violence gripping the city. He went on to further say that he is confident that the redeployment of the street crimes unit will curb the crime that “has plagued Springfield.”
Mayor Sarno calls the new unit a “strike force” that will be “openly involved in gang, drug or gun activity…” He also stated that those individuals who support and protect the criminals will be held responsible, too.
There were 16 homicides in the city in the past year, with four of those homicides occurring in a 30-day period between September 21 and October 5.
Springfield’s Street Crimes Unit is described as a paramilitary style unit that is focused on problem areas in gang and criminal activity. Other information regarding the unit is kept strictly confidential, including how many officers will be assigned to it. Fitchet did say that the officers of the unit were hand-picked, based on their experience and reputation as police officers.
The Street Crimes Unit will not require any new resources; instead, officers will be diverted from other areas, primarily from uniformed patrol units.